Subject:Re: Large Brown Glazed Storage Jar
Posted By: PyroManiac Wed, Feb 22, 2006
It's a pity that so little has been written or even researched about shorage jars such as this. I personally find them extremely interesting and have quite a large collection to satisfy my curiousity and research. There are basically only three good books written on such jars. The best in my opinion is is by Barbara Harrison "PUSAKA- Hierloom Jars of Borneo" printed in 1986. The second best with many good color illustrations is "A Thousand Years of Stoneware Jars in the Philippines printed in 1992 and the last is a rather smallish book called Tempayan•Martavans printed by the Ceramic Society of Indonesia in 1984. Unfortunatley there are no new publications on this subject. And among these three books, they vary somewhat in their descriptions of similar jars. For example jars from South China and nothern Vietnam tend to share the same characteristics.
Even with all these books I still come across old jars that are completely unknown. Some I purchase if the price is right or they are unusual but I try to keep my collection to pre Qing jars simply because such jars from the 17th century onwards are still quite common. Many still being used today for various purposes. Mosty used as rice, water containers, for brewing rice wine or pickling food or simply kept as hierloom pieces in a prominent corner of the house. Only some of these jars have been used as burial coffins. Of those they can be identified by a small hole drilled into the side or the bottom of the jar to allow any liquid to escape. This should not be confused with jars that have a spigot or tap plugged into the side! These are modified jars to be used as water containers. Also the practice of knocking off a chunk from an ear or rim to realese spirits is fairly isolated to the Philippines.
Now back to your jar. How old is it and where was it manufactured. I follow my own check list when confronted with any jar. Shape, size, weight, style of ear lugs, the base, the rim and decorative motif.
Your jar has a very unique shape. Look at the neck with the extra bulge ring around it. What other jars have something like that? Look it up. Illustrated example in the book Hierloom jars of Borneo states 17th century and possibly Vietnamese. The book Stonewares Jars in the Philippines state 17th - 18th century from South China. The two example they illustrate are identical to your jar in every way!
No dimensions were given but I would suspect is about 50cm high. Considered a smaller jar. The larger the jar is, the less chances it is of being Chinese and more of South East Asian manufacture. If the jar is so huge that a person can climb into it, then its most likey a Burmese or Thai water jar.
Can't do this based on images but basically Chinese jars are lighter than South East Asian jars. The clay on SE Asian jars tend to be more reddish and have more iron content than Chinese versions.
The earlugs on your jar are vertical, thinner and more like a half donut. It sticks out very prominently. This is a feature on later Qing Chinese jars. Early Chinese jars tend to have larger and more simple horizontal ear lugs. If the earlugs are big, thick, chunky and not decorated in anyway, then it more likely the jar is of SE Asian manufacture.
The base on your jar is concave with the glaze going all the way down. A concave base is indicitive of Chinese manufacture. SE Asian jars tend to have a flat base. Early Chinese jar (pre-Ming) tend to have the glaze not go all the way down to the base. But instead are left in an unfinished manner leaving an area of exposed clay. Sometimes early jars have the glaze near the bottom end in wide circular loops caused by the potter applying the glaze by brushing the wet glaze in a circular motion. Like how someone would wash their car with a wet sponge; in circular sweeps round and round. However, if it seems like the glaze has been applied all the way down to the bottom, then scraped away leaving an exposed band of clay like a horizontal belt, that is indicitive of later Qing jars 17th century onwards (which I refer as newer jars).
One good way of identifying Qing period jars is the potter's use of an iron wash on the rim making it stronger. Glaze is scraped away and the wash applied. It does not matter if the rim is round, flat or rectangular, the iron wash can easily be spotted. I have not seen such a manufacturing technique on pre-Qing jars. It should be noted that NOT all Qing jars have an iron wash rim! Your jar does not seem to have an iron wash rim.
SE Asian jars tend to be simple and seldom have intricate decorations. Certainly not a dragon. However Chinese jars are the opposite. Mostly with lots of applied, incised decorations. Your jar has applied dragon decoration. Very Chinese. If a jar has a pie-crust style rim, it's Qing onwards!
So with all that, I have to conclude that your jar is from South China dating from the 17th - 18th centuries. A hierloom item and not a burial item. Mouth way too small to put a body inside. You will notice that I did not include GLAZE on my check list for any jar. Simply because you can't. The glazes for such jars have varied very little over a thousand years. I once knew a crude wine jar with an ashglaze that was very much like much older jars except it has an inscription written on the shoulder when the clay was still wet that said" Made in the 9th year of the reign of Guangxu." Rather recent as shipping jars go.
Yours is a nice jar. Certainly fit for any collection with it unusual shape. The great thing about collection storage jars... when you run out of space in your house for your smaller pieces, you can store them in your shipping jars that are presently on display! I do that. They take space as well as save space.